SPSS makes progress in implementing its activities

The Support to Peace and Security in the SADC Region Programme (SPSS) has made progress in implementing scheduled activities designed to strengthen SADC's Peace and Security Architecture.
The Programme, funded under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for a period of three-and-half years to the tune of €15 million, completed the first year of its three-and-half years' implementation schedule on 21 November, 2019. It was initiated on 21 November, 2018 following the signature of the Pillar Assessed Grant or Delegation Agreement (PAGODA) between the European Union (EU) and the SADC Secretariat.

The SPSS Programme is specifically mandated to strengthen the capacity of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to promote peace, security and democracy across the SADC Region in line with the SADC Treaty and the Protocol on Politics Defence and Security Cooperation of 2001.

The Programme has four Key Results Areas (KRAs). The first of these is deals with strengthening Capacity for Electoral Assistance. In this regard, the Programme commenced effective implementation in December 2018, focussing on calendar events, particularly, elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Second Round of the Presidential Elections in Madagascar.

Since the commencement of active implementation in December 2018, the Programme has exceeded the annual target of training 170 election observers in the application of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)-based election observation and reporting techniques.

A total of 226 individuals were trained to cover nine national elections that took place in DRC and Madagascar in 2018; South Africa, Malawi and Madagascar in 2019; as well as Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Botswana, Mauritius, Mozambique and Namibia.

The capturing of the details of all the ICT-trained observers on a formal roste is on-going. The use of ICT Popola software in all these missions has improved capacity for documentation of observation outcomes and experiences. It has also institutionalised the capacity for statistical analysis, including comparative and trend analysis of performance of the region in respect of meeting obligations in their national laws and in the revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections (2015).

This provides an empirical basis to identify and document capacity deficits in Member States electoral management systems. Prior to the deployment of SADC Electoral Observation Missions (SEOMs), Pre-election Missions of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council (SEAC) establish preparedness, political and security imperatives which may allow for informed and comprehensive post-election follow up activities.

The second KRA is on Conflict Prevention and Management. As there is a need for strengthening the connection between institutions operating at the national level and regional mechanisms in line with the Maseru Declaration, the Secretariat undertook a mapping exercise of the peace and security infrastructure in four (4) Member States, namely the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Kingdom of Lesotho, South Africa and Zimbabwe. This exercise will form the foundation for the overall thrust of the Programme's mediation support activities as the focus is to capacitate national structures that are identified.

To bolster this wider objective, the Programme identified 16 previously trained mediators under Regional Political Co-operation (RPC) programme (2013-2018), the fore-runner of the SPSS Programme, for enhanced training so as to ensure that national capacity for the envisaged strengthening processes was readily available. In this regard, the first enhanced training for mediators was undertaken in Harare, Zimbabwe in June 2019.

A second round of training for mediators from civil society organisations (CSOs) was done in December 2019 in Dar es Salaam, in the United Republic of Tanzania. 

This second capacity building workshop was for existing regional Infrastructures for Peace (I4P) targeting 21 participants from regional and national stakeholders CSOs to enhance their early warning mechanisms for preventing conflicts and sustaining peace at national and local levels. 

The participants were drawn from nine (9) SADC Member States, namely Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They also included three SADC Organ Troika.

The third KRA is Strengthening of Capacity to address Transnational Organised Crime (TOC). As part of the SPSS Programme's ambition to strengthen regional capacity to address TOC, the Police Sector was supported to begin the technical process that would enable the region to more effectively, identify, detect and prosecute such crimes.

In this regard, the Police Sector has held three joint operation planning meetings for Senior Police Officers, followed by joint and simultaneous operations conducted by Member States. 

As part of the process for providing technical support to address TOC and to prepare the region for the development of modalities of establishing a regional model of Standard Operating Procedures related to the crimes, the SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials was reviewed. The aim was to align it with international legal frameworks, standards and best practices.

Through the International Police (Interpol) Regional Bureau in Harare, Zimbabwe, the region has increased the pool of expertise on the use of the I-24/7 tool, a facility of Interpol which enables the detection and timely reporting of TOCs.

To further enhance this capacity therefore, the Police Sector is increasing the pool of trainers on the use of the Interpol Illicit Arms and Tracking Management System and Small Arms and Light Weapons and on Cybercrime. 

The Sector has further harmonised the two trainings on the use of the Interpol Illicit Arms and Tracking Management System and Small Arms and Light Weapons to align the two components for effective and efficient training standards and practices. 

Further, the Sector has also reviewed the Cybercrime Training Modules to align them with current cybercrime trends. 

Following these initial steps, the Police Sector is aiming to identify key priority areas in the TOC area, in order to focus all its resources more strategically within the broad field of TOC.

The fourth KRA is Capacity to address Gender Based Violence. The first year of implementation was centred around the development of regional tools that will be used to enhance and strengthen the capacity of key service providers to effectively respond to sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).

To this end, priority was on popularising the SADC Regional Gender Based Violence Strategy and Framework for Action (2019 – 2030) which serves as a blueprint in the regional SGBV response. 

The Programme also developed regional tools, to be rolled out at Member State level, namely i) Regional SGBV Training Guidelines; ii) Regional Guidelines on developing Standard Operating Procedures and Referral Mechanism; and iii) a Review and Inventory of SGBV legislation.

Also, as part of the initial activities of the Programme, stakeholders were sensitised on the regional Programme, through a stakeholder consultative workshop with participation drawn from national gender machineries (SGBV focal persons) and law enforcement officers.

The platform provided a basis for identifying areas that require support to inform future interventions and support for the duration of the Programme.

Parliamentarians play a crucial oversight role in the development and implementation of SGBV laws. The Programme therefore partnered with the SADC Parliamentary Forum (PF) to sensitise Members of Parliament (MPs) on the regional SGBV response. 

The findings of the review of SGBV legislation will be used to strengthen the legislative response in Member States, through engagements and consultations with Members of Parliament.

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